On par with Burgundy in terms of quality Pinot Noir production, Central Otago is a gem of a wine producing region, located at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island. Vineyards are nestled in a number of different valleys situated on the foothills of the Southern NZ Alps and are divided into 6 sub-regions: Cromwell Basin, Bendigo, Bannockburn, Gibbston, Alexandra, and Wanaka – each encompassing a wide range of aspects, soils, and altitudes. As it’s located further inland than other NZ wine growing regions, the climate is Continental, and the intense sunlight and wide diurnal range make for a long growing season that typically sees high alcohol levels. Frost is a real risk in spring and autumn, but as with any vineyard, various methods are utilized to mitigate the hazard.
It was Central Otago Pinots that got me to enjoy that grape variety. They have so much depth, complexity, and sheer oomph factor I was very impressed. Chardonnay also does quite well in Central Otago, and there are over 100 wineries in the area. Some of my favorites/ones of note are Amisfield, Gibbston, Chard Farm, Peregrine, and Brennan. They are all within spitting distance of Queenstown, an adventure destination hub in New Zealand. The entire area is well worth checking out and spending a few days wine tasting and/or sporting, trying a giant swing, bungee jumping, speed boat tours, etc. The river also was used in filming the famous Lord of the Rings, not to mention, per usual for all of New Zealand, the landscape is absolutely breathtaking.
For more information on sub-regions and climates, visit here.